Justia Class Action Opinion SummariesArticles Posted in Mergers & Acquisitions
Hays v. Berlau
In 2012 Walgreens acquired a 45 percent equity stake in Alliance, plus an option to acquire the rest of Alliance’s equity for a mixture of cash and Walgreens stock. Walgreens later announced its intent to purchase the remainder of Alliance and engineer a reorganization whereby Walgreens would become a wholly-owned subsidiary of a new corporation, Walgreens Boots Alliance. Within two weeks after Walgreens filed a proxy statement seeking shareholder approval, a class action was filed; 18 days later, less than a week before the shareholder vote, the parties agreed to settle. The settlement required Walgreens to issue several requested disclosures and authorized class counsel to request $370,000 in attorneys’ fees, without opposition from Walgreens. The Seventh Circuit reversed approval of the settlement, calling the supplemental disclosures “a trivial addition to the extensive disclosures already made in the proxy statement.” “The oddity of this case is the absence of any indication that members of the class have an interest in challenging the reorganization.... The only concrete interest suggested … is an interest in attorneys’ fees.... Certainly class counsel, if one may judge from their performance in this litigation, can’t be trusted to represent the interests of the class.” View "Hays v. Berlau" on Justia Law
Bricklayers & Trowel Trades Int’l Pension Fund v. Credit Suisse Secs. (USA) LLC
A pension fund and other America Online (AOL) shareholders brought a class action against Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB), former CSFB analysts, and other related defendants (collectively, Defendants), alleging violations of sections 10(b) and 20(a) of the Securities Exchange Act and of SEC Rule 10b-5. Specifically, Plaintiffs claimed (1) CSFB made material misstatements and fraudulently withheld relevant information from the market in its reporting on the AOL-Time Warner merger; and (2) the shareholders purchased stock in the new company at artificially inflated prices as a result of the alleged misstatements and omissions. The district court awarded summary judgment to Defendants. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed, holding (1) the district court did not err in excluding the shareholders’ expert testimony for lack of reliability; and (2) without the expert’s testimony, Plaintiffs were unable to establish loss causation.View "Bricklayers & Trowel Trades Int’l Pension Fund v. Credit Suisse Secs. (USA) LLC" on Justia Law
In re McMoRan Exploration Co. Stockholder Litig.
Plaintiffs in this case were former shareholders of McMoRan Exploration Company (MMR). Plaintiffs challenged MMR’s acquisition by Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold, Inc. The case settled, and the only remaining issue was an award to Plaintiff of their attorneys’ fees and expenses upon the Court of Chancery’s discretion. After a consideration of numerous factors, the most important of which was the benefits achieved by Plaintiffs for the shareholder class, the Court of Chancery concluded that the appropriate award of fees and expenses for the efforts of Plaintiffs’ attorneys was $2.4 million.View "In re McMoRan Exploration Co. Stockholder Litig." on Justia Law
In re Answers Corp. Shareholders Litigation
This action arose out of the merger of Answers with A-Team, a wholly-owned subsidiary of AFCV, which in turn, was a portfolio company of the private equity firm Summit (collectively, with A-Team and AFCV, the Buyout Group). Plaintiffs, owners of Answers' stock, filed a purported class action on behalf of themselves and all other similarly situated public stockholders of Answers. The court concluded that the complaint adequately alleged that all of the members of the Board breached their fiduciary duties. Therefore, the motions to dismiss the First Cause of Action were denied, except as to the disclosure claim that plaintiffs have abandoned. The court also concluded that plaintiffs have adequately pled that the Buyout Group aided and abetted a breach of the Board's fiduciary duty. Therefore, the motions to dismiss the Second Cause of Action were denied. View "In re Answers Corp. Shareholders Litigation" on Justia Law
In re K-Sea Transportation Partners L.P. Unitholders Litigation
This was a class action brought on behalf of the common unit holders of a publicly-traded Delaware limited partnership. In March 2011, the partnership agreed to be acquired by an unaffiliated third party at a premium to its common units' trading price. The merger agreement, which governed the transaction, also provided for a separate payment to the general partner to acquire certain partnership interests it held exclusively. The court concluded that defendants' approval of the merger agreement could not constitute a breach of any contractual or fiduciary duty, regardless of whether the conflict committee's approval was effective. The court also found that the disclosures authorized by defendants were not materially misleading. Therefore, plaintiffs could not succeed on their claims under any reasonable conceivable set of circumstances and defendants' motion to dismiss was granted. View "In re K-Sea Transportation Partners L.P. Unitholders Litigation" on Justia Law
In re Celera Corp. Shareholder Litigation
This putative class action was before the court on an application for the approval of settlement of the class's claims for, among other things, breaches of fiduciary duty in connection with a merger of two publicly traded Delaware corporations. The target's largest stockholder, which acquired the vast majority of its shares after the challenged transaction was announced, objected to the proposed settlement. In addition, defendants' and plaintiffs' counsel disagreed about the appropriate level of attorneys' fees that should be awarded. The court certified the class under Rules 23(a), (b)(1), and (b)(2) with NOERS as class representative; denied BVF's request to certify the class on only an opt out basis; approved the settlement as fair and reasonable; and awarded attorneys' fees to plaintiffs' counsel in the amount of $1,350,000, inclusive of expenses. View "In re Celera Corp. Shareholder Litigation" on Justia Law
Rolwing v. Holdings, Inc.
After a merger between Nestle and Ralston Purina, plaintiff, a book-entry shareholder, filed this putative class action in Missouri state court on behalf of himself and all other Ralston Purina book-entry shareholders at the time of the execution of the merger agreement. Plaintiff claimed that Nestle was required to pay the class on a certain date, Nestle's payment was delinquent, and therefore the class was entitled to interest on the payment. Nestle subsequently appealed the district court's order remanding the putative class action to the state courts of Missouri. Because at the time the case was removed it did not meet the amount in controversy requirements for federal subject matter jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d), 1453, 1711-15, the court affirmed the order of the district court. View "Rolwing v. Holdings, Inc." on Justia Law
Steinhardt, et al. v. Howard-Anderson, et al.
Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit on behalf of a class of stockholders of Occam. Defendants moved for sanctions against all plaintiffs other than Derek Sheeler for trading on the basis of confidential information obtained in this litigation. With respect to Michael Steinhardt and the funds, the motion was granted. Consistent with prior rulings by this court when confronted with representative plaintiffs who have traded while serving in a fiduciary capacity, Steinhardt and the funds were dismissed from the case with prejudice, barred from receiving any recovery from the litigation, required to self-report to the SEC, directed to disclose their improper trading in any future application to serve as lead plaintiff, and ordered to disgorge profits. With respect to Herbert Chen, the motion was denied. View "Steinhardt, et al. v. Howard-Anderson, et al." on Justia Law
Gerber v. Enterprise Products Holdings, LLC, et al.
Plaintiff challenged two transactions in this purported class action brought on behalf of the former public holders of LP units of EPE. On behalf of the first of the two purported classes, plaintiff challenged EPE's sale of Teppco GP to Enterprise Products (the 2009 Sale). On behalf of the second purported class, plaintiff challenged the merger of EPE into a wholly-owned subsidiary of Enterprise Products (the Merger). Defendants moved to dismiss all claims, or in the alternative, to stay this action pending the resolution of a related case. The court held that plaintiff had standing to bring the claims asserted in Counts I, III, and V on behalf of the public holders of EPE LP units who continuously held their units from the date of the 2009 Sale through the effective date of the Merger. However, all six counts were dismissed for failure to state a claim. Accordingly, defendants' motion to dismiss was granted. View "Gerber v. Enterprise Products Holdings, LLC, et al." on Justia Law
In re OPENLANE, Inc. Shareholders Litigation
This action arose out of the proposed open merger of OPENLANE with Riley, wholly-owned subsidiary of ADESA which in turn, was a wholly-owned subsidiary of KAR (KAR and, together with Riley and ADESA, collectively, the "Purchasing Entities" or "KAR"). Plaintiff brought a class action on behalf of himself and all other public shareholders of OPENLANE and sought to enjoin preliminarily the merger. The court held that a balancing of the equities did not tilt toward enjoining the transaction. Accordingly, the motion for a preliminary injunction was denied.